WHATEVER WHO WANTS??
A COMMUNION MEDITATION by JACK COTTRELL
Christmas is a time when many of us focus on what WE want for ourselves. How many times do we hear (and ask) the question, “What do you want for Christmas?”
This is not necessarily wrong. But it reminds me that we live in a time and a culture where people assume they can have whatever they want, say whatever they want, or do whatever they want.
This made me want [!] to Google the phrase, “I can do whatever I want.” Here are some interesting results from my brief search:
1. At least 5 popular songs are built around these words, by people I mostly never heard of (Robin Thicke, Usher, Oasis, Emma, Beyonce). For example, one song contains these lyrics: “I can do anything, anything, anything I want!”
2. One website listed 768 examples of “Do whatever I want” in movies, TV, and other media. For example: “I am the King. I can do whatever I want” (from The Lion King). “It’s a free country. I can do whatever I want” (from Napoleon Dynamite).
3. TV star Don Johnson is quoted as saying: “I can do whatever I want. I’m rich, I’m famous, and I’m bigger than you.”
4. Last Feb. (2014) our president said, supposedly as a joke, “That’s the good thing: as a President, I can do whatever I want.”
Now, this has led me to ask myself, how does this state of mind compare with that of Jesus our Lord and Savior? You would think that, if there really ever were a human being who could say, “I can do whatever I want,” it would be Jesus! Can we not imagine hearing him say something like this? – “I’m Jesus. I’m the Son of God! I am the all-powerful Lord of the universe! I can do whatever I want to do!”
But this is not the way it actually worked out. After living in this world for about 33 years, Jesus found himself face to face with the reason he came to earth in the first place. He found himself facing the cross. He found himself about to drink the cup of God’s wrath, preparing to experience the equivalent of eternity in hell for the whole human race. He found himself on his knees in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39).
What did Jesus WANT? He WANTED to pour out that cup, so that he would not have to drink it! He WANTED to hand the cup back to the Father and walk away! But is that what he DID? NO! He did the very opposite of what he wanted for himself.
Though for his own sake he wanted to refuse that cup, he knew he could not do it. He knew this was not the Father’s will. And he knew that if he did what he wanted to do, there would be no salvation for sinners like us. And more than wanting to walk away from the cross, he wanted to do the Father’s will, and he wanted to provide salvation for you and me.
So the rest of his prayer was these familiar words: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (v. 39). I.e., “Not what I want, but what YOU want.” Then later, a second time, he prayed: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (v. 42).
Two things now: First, as you are partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper today, pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God that Jesus did not have this common attitude, “I will do whatever I want!” Thank God that Jesus put the Father’s will, and YOUR NEED, ahead of his own desire. And second, as you are partaking, pray the same prayer of submission that Jesus prayed there in Gethsemane: “My Father, in my daily life, help me to do not whatever I want, but whatever YOU want.”